By leather | July 10, 2012
Like so many others last night, I didn’t hesitate to act when I read that Frank Ocean’s debut, Channel Orange, was made available a week early for download. One by one music enthusiasts poured out their praise and support, via social media, for this highly-anticipated release from Odd Future’s in-house crooner. I stayed up until 2AM listening to this album. Like a kid on a late night TV binge, I couldn’t sleep without consuming all of Channel Orange’s Intended for Mature Audiences Only programming. Let’s be frank, the album does not disappoint. From “Start” to “End,” this album delivers music that plucks at your heart strings, whether carnal or compassionate.
Frank Ocean paints a lyrical picture of a lavish lifestyle that he seems both intertwined and somehow indifferent to. It’s an intimate glance of the ups-and-downs of the fast life. When working in entertainment, you often find yourself teetering on the see-saw of what’s real and what fake. Sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride. Channel Orange takes you on that ride. The album boasts production credits from heavyweights such as Pharrell Williams, Shea Taylor, Om’Mas Keith, and Maylay. Almost immediately, tracks like “Thinking About You” entice you like a sweet, deep and rich cobbler with real vanilla ice cream. “Sierra Leone” is an electric nightmare you don’t want to wake up from. “White” featuring John Mayer is like lingerie: short and delicately sexy. The lazy latchkey opulence of “Super Rich Kids,” the rawness of “Crack Rock,” and the uncomplicated soul of “Pilot Jones” exhibit Ocean’s vocal and emotional valleys and peaks. The Andre 3000 collaboration “Pink Matter” is leagues above the rest. I find myself lost in its sexy syncopation and the Dragon Ball Z Majin Buu reference suggests something funny, sweet and somehow dangerous. The album’s happy high point, “Sweet Life” reminded me of doing 50 down Highland Blvd in Los Angeles or enjoying the city skyline from “The Dons” in Baldwin Hills.
Channel Orange sets a new standard for soul singers and hopefully represents resurgence in R&B music. It is infused with everything that has been right with the genre music from 1960 until the present. Ocean’s sexual orientation aside, it is evident that this album is his catharsis. Art made this way is usually the rawest and the most generous. Hats off to Frank Ocean for creating a soul album that openly seduces the spectrum of sexuality and, eventually, transcends it. Channel Orange is much more than Emo Soul. It is musically mischievous, poignant and perverse. To tune into Channel Orange, stream it now on FrankOcean.com or download from iTunes.